Lillian "Lil" Green (December 22, 1919 – April 14, 1954) was an American blues singer and songwriter. She was among the leading female rhythm and blues singers of the 1940s, possessed with an ability to bring power to ordinary material and compose superior songs of her own.
Originally named Lillian Green, she was born in Mississippi. Like so many Chicago blues artists, Lil Green first learned her craft in the church and country jukes. After the early deaths of her parents, she went to Chicago, Illinois, in the 1930’s where teamed up with Chicago mainstay Big Bill Broonzy.
Green was noted for superb timing and a distinctively sinuous voice. She was 18 when she recorded her first session for the 35 cent Bluebird subsidiary of RCA. In the 1930s she and Big Bill Broonzy had a night club act together. Her composition "Romance in the Dark" was a 1940 Bluebird hit and in 1941 she followed it with a best-selling version of fellow Mississippi Joe McCoy's minor-key blues novelty "Why Don't You Do Right?" By then she had outgrown Big Bill and the tavern scene and moved east to work as a rhythm & blues band vocalist.
Lil Green and her band. Simeon Henry (piano), Big Bill Broonzy (guitar), Lil Green, Ransom Knowling (bass).
For the next ten years she enjoyed a successful career touring theatres and clubs and recording for RCA, Aladdin, and Atlantic, all major R&B labels. Green toured with Tiny Bradshaw and other bands, but never really broke away from the black theatre circuit.
Although Green signed with Atlantic Records in 1951, she was already in poor health. She died in Chicago in 1954 of pneumonia, at the age of 34, and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Gary, Indiana.
Her experiences paralleled those of her male contemporaries and she made it bigger than most. From Southern jukes to Chicago clubs and on to the Apollo Theatre, she participated in the major blues institutions of her time during the golden age of blues history. She was no stranger to trouble. According to R.H. Harris, the leader of the legendary gospel Soul Stirrers, she served time in prison because of her involvement in a juke-joint killing. He also remembered that she sang religious songs beautifully. Her former partner, Big Bill, remembered her in his autobiography as a deeply religious woman who neither smoked nor drank and as a warm-hearted friend.
Today, however, few people remember her or her fine work, though they may be familiar with Peggy Lee's cover of her big hit "Why Don't You Do Right?" We can only wonder why she has been overlooked while more obscure male guitar players with lesser output have received substantially more critical attention. Whatever the case, during her brief career, she proved to be one of the best blues vocalists of her time and her contemporary African-American audience appreciated her art. She deserves her place in history, and today's listener would do well to listen to her music.
(Info edited from Wikipedia & AMG)